Reports are starting to filter in on our area lakes. It appears that the ice in the shallow, protected bays is starting to firm up, although ice over deeper water is still thin at best. Reports have most of the early freezing areas with between 3-5 inches of ice. Watch out for deep water spots, and areas where there is current. Stick to the shallow protected areas for now.
Bay Five and Tierney have both seen people out this week, as have Fox Lake and Forest Lake. Gills are being caught in Madison, and there's some significant activity occurring in the Oshkosh Skipper Buds area as well.
Be careful if you are heading out. Be sure to spud your way out, and consider wearing a PFD. Take it from me, going through is no picnic. Not only does it ruin your day, it has the potential to ruin a whole lot more.
During this early ice period, its not a bad strategy to stick to these areas anyway. Shallow bays can be quite productive. Gills, crappie and pike will all relate to any weeds or shallow cover they can find. A good way to cover water is to put out a couple tipups and jig for panfish with a third pole.
Waxies, mousies, and wigglers are good live bait options for gills. Crappie minnows or plastics can also be productive for panfish and perch. If going for pike or gamefish, shiners or small suckers are the traditional options. Cut bait can also work and is a good way to make use of some of the smaller gills you'll probably catch.
We're setup for your ice fishing needs, and the guys in the shop we'll have up to date information.
Good Luck and Be Safe,